A cornerstone of any democracy is a free press. In addition to private owners most Western governments also feel the need for a government broadcaster – which is paid for by taxpayer money. Such a broadcaster has a duty to maintain balance and impartiality. When the State broadcaster becomes the voice of only one political or ideological view, we have entered troubled waters. Which leads me to The Drum, one of ABC’s flagship shows, hosted by the author, historian, broadcaster and self-confessed Christian, Dr Julia Baird.
I was in my hotel room in Canberra, that cesspit of iniquity otherwise known as Sin City, which clearly needs some puritanical cleansing; and had an hour to spare, so I thought I would heed the recommendations (‘you should watch The Drum, it’s unbelievable’), and sat down to watch. It was a stunning revelation.
I had thought that the BBC was biased but this made the BBC look a model of balance and reason! ABC is, like the BBC, State funded and has a duty to be balanced and impartial. The Drum has either completely forgotten that, or just rewritten the dictionary to give a completely different meaning to the words. Outside of Russian and Chinese State media, I’m not sure I have ever since such blatant political propaganda from a state funded broadcaster!
For an organisation committed to ‘diversity and inclusion’ the ABC does not demonstrate a great deal of either. All the ‘diverse and inclusive’ members of the panel were of the same mind on every one of the subjects they discussed. That included Julia’s current bete noir – this article complaining about crusading journalists – The whole panel joined in Julia’s crusade against the article – thereby inadvertently offering support for its main point.
Then we moved on to the current issue of sexual abuse. To the panellists it was all quite simple – men are to blame and the only way to fix it is to deal with ‘toxic’ masculinity (is there any other kind?) and teach everyone ‘consent’ lessons. The ridiculous statement, that ‘this country was conceived on the back of colonial sexual assault’, was permitted to go completely unchallenged. Julia agreed that the issue ‘we are talking about is how to discern whether someone was enjoying sex or not’. We were told that perpetrators are not monsters; they are just everyday men, your friends, fathers, sons etc. Nobody, least of all the hostess, challenged any of this nonsense. Instead, I was left with the impression if only we voted in the right way and adopted the policies of the panel, there would be no more violence or misconduct in the Progressive Nirvana. There was little or no discussion of the wider issues. Indeed, the whole show was a bit of a pantomime – Scott Morrison (boo, hiss), more sex consent education (hooray!).
Then we moved on to the issue of ending of the job seeker payment. Surely on this controversial political and economic point we would have some ‘robust’ discussion? Not a chance. The Labor party must have been delighted at the free party-political broadcast it was getting. $1 billion of tax payers’ money well spent. “Government can help us and pull us out of poverty, but they choose not to do so.” There is a case to be made for retaining job seeker, and a case to be made for removing it; the problem is that neither case was made. The case for removal was not heard. Those arguing for jobseeker being retained (forever) seemed to be reading from the Ladybird Book of Fantasy Economics.
And there was more. Our united panel then went on to discuss the issue of a transgender minister being appointed to the Uniting Church in Sydney. The Rev Josephine Inkpen was presented as the nice, kind face of religion (hooray!), facing down the evil Sydney Anglicans (boo, hiss!). The Drum had already set us up for this with a story a couple of years ago about Inkpen. We were given a wee sermon in progressive fundamentals – ‘the Gospel is about transformation, not order and keeping people in boxes’. The irony of course is that the Gospel is about deep transformation for all (not just accepting who ‘we are’ inside); and those who want to put people into boxes are the transgender activists, with their gender stereotypes and their distancing of women from biology.
The Anglican diocese of Sydney (boo, hiss) had produced a report on transgender which, IMHO, is one of the best things I have read on this complex subject. It is compassionate, biblical, learned, informative, reasonable and not dismissive of those who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder at all. But that was dismissed with the phrase “its ideological and dismisses the lived experience of people like us”. Never mind that the Drum was serving us up with its continual ideology. Never mind reason. Never mind reality. It’s only ‘lived experience’ that counts. And not all lived experience. It will be a cold day in Darwin before The Drum ever has someone telling their story of detransitioning, or how the indoctrination they received at school and on social media, led them to mutilate their bodies in order to appease their confused minds and confirm their messed-up society.
We were told that one in two Trans people attempt suicide. No one asked the obvious question – if that is the case then why encourage people to become Trans? We were also informed that it is what is inside that counts. Again no one asked the obvious question – why? Or indeed, what actually is inside? The assumption is that what you think (or feel) is what you are. So, if someone feels that they are too fat, we would encourage them in their bulimia or anorexia?
We were informed that the Uniting Church is the progressive strand of Christianity (which indicates why it is dying) whereas Sydney Anglicans (boo, hiss) are the regressive (who nonetheless are probably the most successful mainstream denomination in Australia). The hatred of Sydney Anglicans (boo, hiss) is not unconscious bias on behalf of The Drum, it is all too conscious. Julia is so obsessed with the Sydney Diocese (boo, hiss) that she even devotes a chapter in her best-selling book, Phosphorescence, to its darkness.
We were told that ‘the trans revolution is coming’. Indeed it is, and that is a cause for sorrow not rejoicing. It will be one of the most destructive ‘revolutions’ ever to hit Australian soil and will cause untold harm. But not according to Julia, who declared that this was ‘a positive note’ on which to end.
And so, we did. No questioning, no debate, no probing, no depth – just shallow, superficial, mocking, virtue signalling, progressive propaganda. In order to be ‘a decent human being’ we just had to agree, make sure we are on ‘the right side of history’ and get with the flow. It’s almost enough to make one turn to right wing alternative media. Almost. And therein lies a problem for Christians.
We must avoid the error of reacting to one political, social error by turning to another one. Yes, we can lament the lack of diversity and depth in our national state broadcaster (although of course there are honourable exceptions), but that should not cause us to seek simplistic (and unbiblical solutions). The answer to the Progressive Left is not the Regressive Right. The answer is the Gospel. Some Christians will work out their politics in what might be termed Left wing terms, others Right wing. I would hope all of us would hold our political opinions with humility and wisdom. They are not, after all, our religion.
Meanwhile we should be careful what we wish for. Some people say that if only we get more Christians into mainstream media, then things would improve. I’m not sure that’s’ true. Sadly, too many Christians pay a heavy price for having a seat at the table. Not least that they are not permitted any say in the menu. They just serve up what the world offers – with a smiling face. Whilst I would hope for and encourage more Christians to enter into the dark world of the media to be salt and light, I think more than that is required. We should pray that whoever our journalists and producers are – that they would be good at their job and allow a variety of views and opinions, so that the Gospel and the Word of God, could at least get a hearing. We are not asking for Christian propaganda – just justice and truth.